A Fine Day for a Protest: Women’s March on Victoria

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We agreed to meet at a coffee shop to get sustenance before heading down to the march. Outside the cafe, people with pink hats and signs walked past every few minutes, and I got excited.

My mother, sister, boyfriend, and friends were all in Helena marching in frigid temperatures. I knew friends marching in Geneva, Amsterdam, DC, Boston, Minneapolis, Houston, San Francisco, New York, and Seattle.  Most of the people I love today were out showing solidarity for one another and for other humans. Right now is not the time to shelter yourself- it is time to unite, express love and support, and learn new things. To be a good listener and take time to accept new ideas. To put yourself out of your comfort zone, stand up for yourself and others, and realize that right now, we must watch out for each other and ourselves.

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The march in Victoria was overwhelmingly positive. Lots of older folks, many who seemed excited and yet tired of the shenanigans their dramatic neighbors in America seem to always get up to. Lots of amazing home made signs, dogs, and little ones- including some babies that didn’t seem to keen to be starting their lives as rebels just yet. The weather was beautiful, and a really wicked Canadian politican, Elizabeth May of the Green Party, spoke. I met her on the street once during Canadian election season (which, side note is WAY shorter and more humane than the never-ending election cycle of America) and ever since have been a big fan. The march began and we headed in the direction of the Parliament building, then turned and made a big U-turn up another street. The whole time I felt on the edge of tears- so many awesome people allying themselves with Americans who will be facing struggles in the near future.

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The optimism and exciting energy I felt today extended beyond Victoria. It extended beyond North America. It rippled across the world and it was absolutely infectious. I hope that we can learn intersectionality, true support, and be vocal for positive, progressive changes for the better, and not be okay with the horrible darkness that threatens to engulf some of us, and I hope that protests and marches like these are just a start.

There are estimates that about 5,000-8,00 Victorians marched today, and while I’m not quire sure how many ultimately made a stand of solidarity and marched, there were thousands of people that filled the downtown area with their marvelous energy. It was such a joy to march with everybody and to see Victorians, who have often seemed so friendly and helpful, make themselves known as even more quality souls.

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A Day of Mourning

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Today I didn’t wear all black but I felt like it. Waking up before the sun had risen, I had a drink of water, put on lipstick, and walked out the door with my camera. I thought of home- of my family that will be marching tomorrow against hate, racism, sexism, xenophobia, and all other horrid things that do not represent the America we know- and I wanted to be home.

The morning was beautiful- crows chatted and birds chirped from bushes that were on the edge of blooming. Victoria right now, in mid to late January, is already on the edge of welcoming Primavera in all her colors. Snowdrop flowers, those harbingers of such events,  were already blooming in some flower beds on my street, and I wanted to ask them to be patient and wait- snowdrops are some of my favorite flowers and they fade the fastest, and things already feel so difficult and insurmountable.

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I walked down to my favorite beach spot and noticed that the sea was utterly roiling. The golden and copper hues of the sun on the mercury-like waves was mesmerizing, but the waves were so big and so frequent I couldn’t clamber over the rocks to my favorite hidden place. I tried to wait them out, as it is common knowledge that the ocean is a moody thing, prone to changing quickly. No such luck. In my suspicious mind, I wondered if the ocean knew that thousands of miles away, in a swamp turned capital city turned swamp, a monster supported by neo-Nazis and the ignorant alike was putting on a mantle of enormous power, and that perhaps the ocean knew that this was wrong, bad, and could have all sorts of consequences for many life forms.

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Then I thought about my mother, busy making signs for the march in Helena tomorrow, and I thought about my marvelous aunt, who was already in DC, excited to march against this ridiculous Cheeto in Chief who would likely raise Hell with his ignorance. I thought of Mary in Minneapolis who was also excited to march and I thought of myself, who would be joining a coalition of allies here in Victoria tomorrow.

Now is a difficult time. Many things threaten to drown me. A seemingly never-ending struggle to maintain a most tenuous balance plays out. Right now, the balance between maintaining my mental health and being productive feels like the hardest one. Many of us are doing our best and I know that right now, all I can ask of myself is that I do the same.

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Sunday: Resolutions, lighting, and coffee.

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I love long walks on early weekend mornings. Spending my mornings outside will never be a waste of time. Lately, Victoria has been pulling out the most beautiful sunrises and I finally decided to capitalize on the opportunity to witness one. That meant getting out of bed before 7:30 am which is quite…uh, early? I went to bed at 10, because I am 25 and yet more akin to a grandmum than most humans, and woke up with my camera already charged and my belongings already laid out. I have no life, so planning ahead is mostly easy.

I walked out the door and found the most fluffy, pink-tinged clouds hanging overhead. It was absolutely beautiful. As I got closer to the water I could see the gorgeous glow of the Golden Hour everywhere. Everything fizzled with that vibrant energy the potential of morning brings. In the morning, you haven’t screwed up too badly yet. There is time to remedy mistakes, to kick ass, to figure it out.

31954586930_68100c00b1_c31954584800_0de4675092_c32181440942_2b952288b2_cOne thing I’ve been trying to do more this year is deliberately make more images of myself. Being the type of person who always carries around a camera (or two) means that often, I am making images of everything but myself. Looking through my photographic archives, I do not see my corporeal self. Yes, with every photograph I take there is a bit of me, but I miss out on pictures with my friends, with my boyfriend, with nature. I want to be photographed as well. I want to be present in more than a theoretical way.

Being neurotic, though, this comes at a cost: I hate having others take my pictures. I hate posing or faking it or looking how I think I should look and half the time it shows. What doesn’t help is that over the years I have developed a very complex (read: ridiculous) relationship with my face. My character-filled Dutch nose, my small mouth, and long face, have all instilled in me this idea that my face is hard to photograph. That it doesn’t hold light well. It is rare that somebody else takes a picture of me that I don’t cringe at. And so, I must take matters into my own hands and my own self-timer. 31520863063_e1f02169f4_c

Sundays I have been trying to spend exploring how to best photograph/represent myself. It’s been awkward and a struggle but my long morning walks now incorporate a bit of experimentation and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the results.This morning, for instance, it was immediately apparent it would be very sunny and experimenting with the lighting and angles was quite productive.

After meandering back into the bustle of the town, settling into some coffee and a book felt perfect. The downtown location of Habit wasn’t too busy and I pulled apart a croissant, making a flaky mess, while perusing the dense, spiraling world of Dostoevsky. I bought this tattered copy of Crime and Punishment in the English bookstore near the Bahnhof in Zurich on my 20th birthday and it may sound silly but it’s the best size and the best weight for toting around. One thing Dostoevsky does with his writing is make it so dense that if I don’t keep reading every day or so I have to almost totally start over, and over the years this copy has never had my eyes graze the final page. (Yes, it has taken me over 5 years to finish this book. I always get close but never quite finish it). Part of me wants to never have it end so I can always keep this copy around.

Now, I find myself reading Evelyn Cameron’s diary for my thesis. Grad school work lurks as an omnipresent spectre even during relaxing moments…

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Hike: Mount Douglas

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Katherine suggested we try to find and hike Mount Douglas as a way to shake things up a bit. It’s been so cold here that we’ve both got a bit of cabin fever going! This morning we packed our respective cameras and left our little bit of town and began our hike!

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Mount Douglas is a very popular hiking spot in Victoria, and has several trails. We hiked the Irvine trail, which was beautiful and steep in several spaces. Lots of ferns, beautiful patches of moss all over the rocks. It was cold enough that frost on some of the rocks made the trail quite slick, but luckily it wasn’t warm enough out for lots of mud to be present.

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We had a beautiful morning exploring this new corner of the city! There were lots of dogs and fellow hikers, and if you like having trails to yourself I would go early in the morning when people aren’t up and about yet. The trail was pretty moderate but I wouldn’t wear casual shoes or shoes you wouldn’t mind getting muddy. The rocks require some grip and there are definitely patches that have potential to be quite muddy.

Thank you for reading! I’ve been making a serious effort to re-boot this blog back into action. Stay tuned for more and take care!

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Americana: The Lewis & Clark County Fair

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I insisted that Logan come to the fair with me. The fair is a microcosm of American culture: It’s big, colorful, gluttonous, loud, and silly. Children can shoot fake enormous guns that look scarily real from rough looking carnival employees. One can buy deep fried Oreos in large quantities and people watch. Rodeo visitors dress up in their best cowboy boots, hats, and belts. Men with large stomachs wear their largest belt buckles. The exhibition hall houses goats, rabbits, chickens, cows, and sheep, all for purchase or viewing.

Old people walk past children’s carnival rides decorated with busty women, hyper sexualized characters in skimpy outfits. Everywhere there is inescapable mud and dirt, in sharp contrast to the shiny neon and the lights. Food trucks line the parking lot, and one can devour anything from pork chop sandwiches to roasted corn to funnel cakes.

And I found a roll of 35mm film in a film shop in Bozeman that I hadn’t picked up, scanned in the negatives, and found all of this waiting for me. What an odd, marvelous late gift to myself.

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Hide + Seek Coffee

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It was ridiculously chilly, and Katherine and I were bundled up thickly. We entered the slim and busy Hide + Seek coffee house in Oak Bay.

I had walked past it a few times and apparently never noticed it- and what a mistake! Although it doesn’t fit that many bodies it boasts delicious coffee, a bright atmosphere, really friendly baristas, and a great record selection for the baristas to put on.

Now, I’ve never paid for avocado toast in my life. Nor am I much of a purchaser of things like toast with jam- I can make those at home if I please- but this place has a reputation around town for having fresh baked, delicious goods. They had homemade pop tarts, cookies, and every Sunday they have Waffle Sunday (which I will likely be going to).

While I live in a different part of town I definitely want to come back here. Prices were super reasonable, they have good Wifi, and if you’re patient enough to wait out for a good seat, it’s a great place to get cozy.

Bundled up by the sea.

31818697970_49bd63931d_c32075827831_594cb368ce_c31818697200_1b5c6aef04_cThis morning I woke up and it was cloudy, warmer than it had been all week, and quiet. I quickly dressed, packed a muffin, a banana, my diary, camera, and keys in my bag and headed out the door sufficiently bundled up. I pinned on the small bird in hand pin my sister got me as well. It goes with me everywhere these days.

Victoria has been cold. And by cold, I mean balmy compared to my homeland, the deathly chilly wastelands of Montana. Yet, the ocean chill seeps into my very soul on these cold days and so when the temperature rose enough for me to feel like I could be outside for a length of time, I took the opportunity with enthusiasm.

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There weren’t many people out, despite the significantly warmer weather. Honestly, I love it when Victoria is like that. When it feels like a secret, when the beaches are empty of dogs and humans. The murmur of human voices are gone, replaced by the sound of wind and waves. I reclaimed my love for Victoria again this morning with this environment.

Going down a familiar set of slippery wooden stairs, I scrambled on rocks by the beach and thoroughly enjoyed myself, bundled up in a large thrifted Polo Ralph Lauren men’s sweater that serves as my coat these days and the ridiculously warm Icelandic wool scarf I bought myself in downtown Reykjavik last June. Sea ducks surfaced and dove right off shore and the massive ships anchored deep in the strait looked as though they had always been there. The mountains behind Port Angeles are snow capped and regal looking this time of year, and I felt a twinge as I looked at my home country, and my mind went to my family and loved ones. What a lucky thing it is to live somewhere that still surprises me, but what a thing it is to do so feeling still so alone.

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Nonetheless, being a human is inherently a lonely enterprise, so to dwell on the difficulties of such things is pointless. It’s best to listen to the sounds around me, breathe deeply, and smell the salt and the sea. It’s better to notice how steadily me heart beats, how amazing the miles of blood vessels that run through me are, and how glorious it is to feel the soles of my boots move from one rock to another as I navigate the slick rocky shore.

I think these things as I sit near the large window that faces a busy street. It has begun to rain very hard and raindrops coat the window. Everything in me is whispering to go take a Sunday cat nap for a bit, and I just might. A dopo!

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The Parrot Confectionery

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The Parrot has been a refuge of sorts for me for years. I’ve written diary entries, finished and ended books, held hands, had serious conversations and said goodbyes here. I’ve consumed way too much coffee in the booths, I’ve even cried in them. I lost my wallet once and found it there, in the hands of the staff, who kindly kept it for me behind the counter.

The Parrot in Helena, Montana, has been a place for me to love going to since we moved to Montana in 1998. It’s always felt familiar. Some new owners just bought it and I quietly fear that it will change, though they have vowed not to change a thing. Helena’s had this marvelous staple around for over 90 years, and I hope that when I am old and brittle I can still slowly make my way through the screen door and hear that bell ring and settle into my booth, with a piece of honeycomb chocolate and a cup of cheap coffee.

 

A Cabin Palaver/NYE 2016

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My hands clenched the wheel of the old Subaru as I slowly turned the wheel to negotiate yet another slick curve, and I openly cursed the Montana Highway maintenance people, while Logan calmly offered to drive. You call this a highway?! This is a death trap of ice and bullshit! No gravel! No nothing! This is a heavily used road and THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE?! 

Logan once again offered to take control, and I hissed NO and kept driving the car slowly over the icy turns of the highway. While I loathe driving over horrible roads, I fear giving up control even more. We crawled slowly, but the views were gorgeous. Frost covered trees, sage brush, and hillsides were passed, illuminated by the ever warmer light of the dying sun. It was, truly, beautiful in the way only cold, northern places can be.

We finally passed the not-real town of Norris and made our way down into Ennis. From there we finally found Virginia City, a summertime town known as one of the early capitals, when Montana was but a Territory. A flourishing mining town at one point, now it is a small town with lots of festivals and events in the summertime. We entered it in the midst of winter, with shuttered up windows and “closed for the season” signs inevitably hung up.

We called our Airbnb host and he led us in his little white truck up roads with no names to a renovated cabin from the 1880’s. He showed us around, shook our hands, and left Logan and I. We went and fetched Mary and Amy, unpacked the cars, and proceeded to cook a meal.

 

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Logan brought lamb from a ranch in Boulder, Montana. We had stopped by their stand at the farmer’s market many times this summer. They always remembered Logan because of how tall and nice he is. The lamb in a pan, veggies in a bowl, and wine in our glasses, we set to palavering and cooking, drinking and enjoying the end of 2016.

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The cabin was ridiculously well thought out. There were a huge number of books tucked away in discreet, beautifully hidden bookshelves. Plenty of firewood sat on the front porch. The small wood stove was an efficient beast, and quickly warmed the loft into quite a toasty nest. We perused books while the lamb stewed and kept ducking outside to admire the stars. Why is it that stars always look brighter in the cold? Is there something about frozen night air that makes it clearer? The sky hadn’t looked so big to me in some time.

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Soon dinner was ready. Time flew by, and when Logan fished the lamb out of the pot, it slid off the bone immediately. Steam wafted from the meat and we took turns gnawing on one shank that wasn’t so clean. We poured a Tannat wine from Uruguay and settled in to devour a perfect New Years Eve meal together. There is always a marvelous simplicity to eating meals around tables with good people.

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Finally, midnight approached. We drank prossecco, bundled up, and went out into the front yard and gaped. We smoked a cigar that Mary brought and were mostly quiet, trying to not freeze to death. Each of us pondered what the year had brought us, and what the next would bring. I think that every single one of us, though, felt a quiet sort of satisfaction that we were welcoming a new year in such a place, with each other.

2016 in review

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2016 was one hell of a year. It was full of quiet bliss, clear eyed decisions, hard work, and adventures of a smaller scale that were still very satisfactory. Reunions with friends I hadn’t seen in years, cooking and eating some amazing meals, and being able to breathe for a few months away from graduate school- these are the things I treasured.

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Visiting Seattle to see Exa and Shelby. Logan visiting Victoria for the first time, where we ate all the pho and walked miles every day. Trips to Yellowstone for camping, seeing animals, stars, and pitching tents in the dark. Soaking in hot springs, seeing steam and relaxing in rivers. Driving to Minneapolis with Logan and Everett to see Savages with Mary. Relishing cold gin on the back porch of the Rialto with Ella as the summer sun sets. Taking a canoe down the Missouri on a hot day, covered in sunscreen, surrounded by pelicans, geese, and trout. Going home for Halloween and prancing around in all black, cooking amazing food and feeling the crisp edges of Montana winters whisper around me.

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The darkest part of this year involved 3 months where I moved into the worst living situation I had ever experienced. It drained me emotionally and as a result my school, mental health, and many other aspects of my life suffered. Thankfully, I escaped that horrible situation (thank you Kalin and Matt and Morgan for helping me move!) and was able to go home for a month. Home was chaotic and beautiful. Some rather terrible events happened in our family but we were able to be together for those, and seeing my family weather difficulties together assured me that we will be okay, even if All The Horrible seems to dominate for the time being.

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This year I have felt a bit listless. While many parts of my life- my relationships with loved ones and my family- feel stronger than ever, I have felt off-kilter with my relationship with my body. I haven’t been exercising the way I need to, and while I was living in the Hovel, I didn’t eat well. Mentally, graduate school has presented me with many challenges, and I have felt frustrated at the bureaucracy involved, the endless critiques and some aspects of academia that I struggle with. Self-doubt lingers as well.

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However, I embrace 2017 with open arms. I am now in a beautiful apartment with a lovely roommate. Challenges are coming. Work piles up. I live paycheck to paycheck. But I wake up to the sun every day, and I wake up knowing that I am important, significant, and capable of so much.

I know too that this blog has suffered as a result of my bad living situation last year. Now that I am living somewhere much better, I hope to share more than bare snippets! I want to chat about literature, my favorite things, what matters right now, interesting things that others have shown me.

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Now, time to fully fall into whatever 2017 has to offer.

Smitten Kitten

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My sister adopted the most beautiful little hairball last fall and I didn’t get the chance to meet her until last week! Co likes to sleep next to your face and makes lots of chirps all the time. She doesn’t like to be picked up and she’s surprisingly small for being so hairy!

Having not been to Bozeman for some time, Em and I attempted to find a cozy nook to settle into and catch up. Unfortunately, every such place was quite crowded. Nonetheless, we eventually found ourselves deep in conversation, talking about anything and everything in the way only sisters can.

Sisters and cats can cure any amount of the blues, it seems.

Winter mornings

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Home means darkness. It means short days, beautiful sunsets, and lots of layering (even for the dogs!).

Kitty and I went outside one morning to play on the ice. She is almost too fat for her coat but we got it on her nonetheless! She and I ran out in the freezing weather, the snow squeaking and flying around us. No mice prints, no bird prints- it was too cold for animals to be out and about. The sun had not yet risen and we got out onto the ice.

I have always loved the way that ice looks- all the trapped air bubbles, cracks, and other imperfections that become trapped for weeks or months at a time. Ice moves slowly, so slowly that you don’t know it, but occasionally a large, ominous BOOM echoes across the lake as large sections encounter one another.

We didn’t stay outside too long, as it was very, very chilly, but we both got some much needed fresh air and feel the cold air surround us. I am already getting ready to go back to British Columbia and it has been fantastic to be home. How lucky to be able to come home and spend time with loved ones and exist outside of my writing for a bit.

Home again

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I have been with the ones I love and it has been marvelous. We’ve been cooking pizzas, lasagnas, pasta dishes galore. Hot tea and coffee have been staples. There is snow, so much more than I thought there would be!

I start work this week for a few weeks of money making. My heart is so full right now in the best way.